NEW INFORMATION: Panel votes to cut University of Wisconsin $250 million

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- After hours of debate, UW System leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after the joint finance committee reduces cuts to the system by 50 million dollars.

The governor’s proposed budget initially had 300 million dollars in cuts to the UW-System. Around 9pm Friday evening, the Joint Finance Committee lessened the blow reducing the cuts to 250 million dollars across the UW-System's 13 four-year and 13 two-year institutions.

It was a back and forth discussion between Democrats and Republicans through the evening.

"It's an area that Wisconsin has always led on and that is what people want us to continue to lead on. We've had several polls now. They don't want these cuts. They don't want to cut our public education system," said Rep. Chris Taylor, a Madison Democrat in the 76th District.

"I believe in the university and the university's ability to help out our state, and I think the university has done that. In part, the committee's move is to put 50 million dollars back toward the university system. We would like to do more, but we don't have tons of money lying around," says Dale Kooyenga, a Madison Republican in the 14th District.

Following today's announcement that those cuts could be reduced, UW schools from across the state reacted, including UW-Eau Claire.

Mike Rindo is the Assistant Chancellor for Facilities and University Relations at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

"The good news is the legislature's Joint Finance Committee reduced the governor's proposed budget reduction by 50 million dollars. It also gave flexibilities to the UW-System that will enable us to more effectively and efficiently manage campuses. We expect to also realize some savings from that. The bad news is 250 million dollars is still a very deep cut, and as a result will result in some drastic reductions at the university," said Rindo.

The committee also agreed with Walker's call to freeze tuition the next two years. But after that, UW could raise tuition as much as it wants.

The budget still needs to be passed by the senate and assembly before heading to Governor Scott Walker's desk for his signature in July.
The Legislature's budget-writing committee has voted to cut the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million, eliminate tenure in state law, limit shared governance provisions and give UW more flexibility to save money.

The Joint Finance Committee voted to approve the changes Friday with all Republicans in support and Democrats against. The budget must pass the Senate and Assembly and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before taking effect.

Walker had proposed a $300 million cut but the committee lowered it by $50 million.

The committee also rejected Walker's call to give UW independence from most state laws and oversight.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) --University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross says he is grateful that UW's budget cut is set to be reduced from $300 million to $250 million.

Cross reacted Friday to the plan by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee to reduce Gov. Scott Walker's budget cut for the university by $50 million.

Cross calls that a "significant reduction" in the cut. He says reducing the cut "illustrates a willingness to open a new dialogue and partnership between the legislature and the UW System."

The Joint Finance Committee also planned to freeze tuition for the next two years and give UW some flexibilities to deal with the cut, but not complete independence from state oversight and laws as Walker had proposed.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget-writing committee plans to reduce Gov. Scott Walker's proposed $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System by $50 million.

The Joint Finance Committee planned to vote on the cut Friday.

The Republican-controlled panel does not plan to go along with Walker's plan to give UW more independence from state laws and oversight. That independence was designed to help UW deal with the budget cut.

The committee does plan to vote for continuing a tuition freeze for another two years, making it more difficult for UW to deal with the budget cut.

The 13 four-year and 13 two-year institutions in the UW System have been announcing lay-offs and other budget cuts to deal with a $300 million reduction.

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